Blacklist Union: Back To Crüefest Hollywood
It was time for Crüefest Hollywood to take place at the world famous Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip – an annual Cancer Cure fundraising event showcasing some of the very best local bands our music scene has to offer. The almighty Blacklist Union was one of the hard rocking collectives making an appearance at the venerable Sunset Strip establishment, presenting an exhilarating performance that was one of the definitive highlights of the day.
Fronted by the charismatic and outspoken Tony West, Blacklist Union performed a good amount of songs from their recently released Back To Momo magnum opus. Right after destroying the Whisky with their sonic blast of a performance, Tony West sat down backstage with Highwire Daze to discuss his involvement with Crüefest Hollywood, the deeply personal lyrics found within Back To Momo, overall impressions of the fabled L.A. music scene, and a whole lot more topics of interest. Read on as we venture Back to Crüefest Hollywood with Tony West of Blacklist Union…
How did you wind up becoming involved with Crüefest Hollywood this year as well as the crusade against cancer?
Well, we’ve played for Nick before. I’ve had my first wife die from cancer. I had an aunt died from cancer. So I’m down to always do anything charity wise, especially cancer, I’ve lost some people I really love to it. I’m always down to do that. Of course, the Skylar Neil Memorial Fund, you know Vince lost a kid a long time ago. I’m a parent, man. I can’t even imagine. But anytime I can be of service and deliver the goods, I’m there.
For people who did not make it out to Crüefest Hollywood, what did they miss?
They missed some kick ass rock and roll and my son, who’s nine, he sang a couple of songs with us. He sang “Rock and Roll Outlaw,” which is a Rose Tattoo cover and then we did another cover, “Problem Child” by AC/DC which he helped me on too.
What would you do if your son told you he wanted to be in a band? I guess that wouldn’t bother you too much…
I mean, he already has drums and a guitar. Yeah, someone asked me once what would you do if your son asked to get a tattoo and I said, I’ll say son I already got all the tattoos for you. You don’t need any. [laughs] but I don’t think that’ll work too well.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the album title, Back to Momo?
Momo is a whorehouse in LA. At 13 years old, the first time I had sex my father bought me a hooker. I had never even kissed a girl yet. I had sex first, then kissed a girl. So, a lot of people deal with sexual abuse growing up. Back to Momo is like an innuendo, I’ve dealt with that for a long time. I had issues with my mother, all these things. The whole concept of the record in its entirety is about letting go. Letting go of all the ties that binded me for so long and really getting back to basics and having a good time, fucking kicking ass. Really letting go of all the shit, because everyone has the power to do that, you just have to say so. Sometimes you gotta remind yourself, that life is too fucking short to hold onto that bullshit. Back to Momo is basically about getting back to celebrating life and having fun.
That song is going to be our next single, actually. We get a lot of airplay in Europe, we do well in all these little pockets around the world. “Super Jaded” is getting some airplay right now in the UK. I came to LA as a teenage runaway and I’ve been through a lot of shit. I’ve seen a lot of people make it, I’ve seen a lot of people die. Hung out with fuckin’ the biggest of the fuckin best. I’ve been from the back alley to the backstage, been through so much shit. It’s basically about not letting that hold you down. I stopped saying I’ve seen it all because then I’ll see some other crazy shit. It’s really hard to not walk around with a chip on your shoulder or be an angry guy. I was like that for so many years, I wasted a lot of my energy and time and burned a lot of bridges. Again, it goes back to the whole concept of its entirety of getting back to basics. Celebrating life instead of letting it hold you down.
My mom was really mean growing up. The song is about her. There’s some gnarly shit that happened. Really abusive shit. That’s another thing, where I’m a grown ass man and I have to stop crying about my mommy. Let that shit go, just let it go. What happened was, I kept recreating that woman in my life. The cold, shut off emotionally unavailable, abusive chick. Not until I realized that I was able to break the cycle.
How did the collaboration with Todd Youth come about? He’s worked with everyone from Danzig to Glen Campbell.
Yeah. I love Todd. We’ve been friends a long time. I grew up in New York seeing a lot of his bands. I was into a lot of Punk Rock and Hardcore growing up, and thrash. Telemarketing is a big rocker job in LA and we actually met through that years ago. We’re both real New York. The thing about Todd I really like is that I don’t have to explain to him like yo, check this band out. Blah blah. He already knows all the bands I’m into. He’s like an encyclopedia of rock like I am. He’s fucking as legit as you get and he’s such a humble nice guy, that’s kinda sealing the deal because he doesn’t have any rockstar fucking bullshit.
What is your overall impression of the LA music scene and how does Blacklist Union fit in?
We’re like the bastard son misfits. We’re the fucking, what is it? The Island of Broken Toys? Nobody wants a charlie in the box! It’s because I’ve had a big mouth and told a lot of people to fuck off, certain promoters and people who want to walk all over us and the younger kids, they don’t know. They think it’s part of it. Those people need the bands as much as we need then, in fact, bands can do their own thing. Rent a hall, they don’t really need that shit. But, you know, we have some street cred and people know we deliver the goods. It really comes down to that, can you deliver the music? All the rest is bullshit.
How close are you to writing and recording any new material?
We’re talking about it. The name of the record will be called Letters from the Psych Ward. Me and Todd have been talking about that. A couple of producers came to mind, we’re talking to Jack Douglas who produced all the early Aerosmith. Things are in the works – I have a bunch of ideas. Me and Todd can write a record in a week, a song a day for ten days.
Very creative team.
Yeah, it’s really effortless and fun. We have fun. And fun is real important to me, so.
Do you have any messages for people reading things who don’t know you yet?
I mean, if you like kickass rock and roll that delivers. Not only recording, but live. When I go see a band I want to walk away like, wow! That was kick ass. That’s always our goal, we shoot from there. If you like real rock and roll, check us out. We’re not hard to find. Google us.
(Interview by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Cruella Photography)